View Full Version : advise on braille

matthew knott
11-13-2011, 2:03 PM
Been asked by our local sign company if we can do braille, we have an epilog ext36 and im wondering what else i need, i see someone has done a corel draw plug in, i then think you push little balls in to the holes that get engraved.
I wondering the following
1) where do i get the balls and do i need any special equipment or glue to put them in.
2) could someone on here convert a bit of text to braille for me so i can do a test run (any text will do) if it works i will buy the plugin
3) Are there any articles on here that go through what i need to do, ive done a search but its all a bit fragmented.

thanks guys!!

Joe Pelonio
11-13-2011, 3:57 PM
There are 3 stickies on the Sign forum on this, and a lot of posts, did you search there or just the Engraving forum?

I buy the balls from McMaster Carr, laser the holes and push them in manually, one at a time, but only to do small custom jobs.
Once you get an order for 20-30 signs it becomes a little tedious. Most have been done with a Wilsonart/Formica laminate applied to acrylic backer, with Rowmark ADA material for the raised letters.

paul mott
11-14-2011, 8:53 AM

There are a few online Braille translators which you could use to get your sample - this is just one of them www.mathsisfun.com/braille-translation.html

I could not easily get the depth of hole correct with the laser acrylic laminate so in the end went for CNC engraving, drilling and inserting the balls.

Please be aware that some patents exist in the UK covering the technique used for inserting the balls.


212880 212881

Scott Shepherd
11-14-2011, 9:33 AM
The issue you will find with engraving the holes is that the beam is hourglass shaped, so your holes will be smaller at the bottom and larger at the top. Not a good combination for something you don't want a small ball to fall out of. One work around for that is to use 1/32" material, flip it over and vector cut the holes from the back. That way the holes are smaller at the top. You press the balls in from the back and then adhere that entire piece to the back of the sign or whatever else it needs to be stuck to. That method works very well and no glue is required for the balls.

Having done more than I care to count, we never laser braille any more. Never. There are much faster ways that work much better and give better fits.

matthew knott
11-14-2011, 11:00 AM
Thanks guys, i will give it a try, intrestingly these signs are being hung a celling height, it would need a blind basketball player to use them, im sure its against regs but they want all signs to have braille no matter where they are going !!

Keith Outten
11-14-2011, 8:52 PM
You can laser engrave the holes by adjusting your speed and power settings to produce a hole that is just undersized. Once the holes are engraved use an egg beater drill with a 0.059" diamiter drill bit to clean out the holes and size them to spec. It should only take one turn of the drill to get a perfect press fit hole. Mind you this technique works well with Corian as a substrate, it may not be appropriate for other types of materials.

Braille spheres can also be purchased from brailleballs.com

Scott Shepherd
11-15-2011, 8:18 AM
Keith, please tell me you're not doing your braille with an egg beater :)

matthew knott
11-15-2011, 9:59 AM
I had to google egg beater drill!! old school but at least it doesnt get left off charge like all the electric drill do here, ( and the phones and the camera and anything with a battery) !!!!

Keith Outten
11-15-2011, 12:46 PM
Yep, I use an egg beater drill with a rotary engraver braille bit to both clean out the holes from laser engraving and leave behind a perfectly round hole that is 0.059" diameter. It only takes a few seconds for each plaque and it is a lot faster than having to glue braille spheres in a sloppy hole.

Seems crude I know but it works perfectly.

Scott Shepherd
11-15-2011, 6:13 PM
Keith, with all the ADA signs you do, you can't get a rotary engraver? Once you do one like that, you'll beat your head on the desk for not doing it years ago.

I can do the braille in about 60 seconds and that includes typing it in. 90 seconds and the holes are done and the balls are in.

Keith Outten
11-16-2011, 5:48 AM

The budget at CNU is tight these days so I doubt that a rotary engraver would be approved. Even if it was I don't have any space left to put one, my office is full and the shop is a two car garage with a 4 by 8 ShopBot in one bay and we park two golf carts in the second bay every night.

We are currently working an 800 door sign run so there are boxes of sign blanks everywhere in various stages. Right behind the door signs is the second phase which is about 300 specialty signs which are more work than the door signs. The fire codes are pretty tough on stairwell signs, they have got to be pretty big to accommodate all the text that is required.

Everything has to be on wheels so we can move it around to accommodate the golf carts at the end of the day. Honestly I am amazed at how many signs we can produce from such a small space and with only a few bench top machines. It's a challenge, believe me :)

Scott Shepherd
11-16-2011, 8:26 AM
Mount it to the back of a golf cart :)